Boys & Girls Club Teaches Computer Programming


12/7/2016 8:07:00 AM
Cracking the Code
Andrew Mansfield
Reporter

Cracking the Code

News staff photo by Andrew Mansfield The Boys & Girls Club of Gardner participated in Hour of Code on Tuesday at the Gardner High School library. Fifth-graders Santos Lavoie, left, and Matthew Delisle are immersed in learning how to code.

GARDNER  As technology becomes a more-integral part of daily life and the economy, learning the language of computers is becoming a valuable skill for children.

Students at the Boys & Girls Club of Gardner got some practice in the ABCs of computer coding on Tues­day afternoon, as the club took part in the global initiative Hour of Code.

Program instructor Kendra Kilian described computer coding as “speaking in computer language,” being able to command the computer to perform various functions.

The Boys & Girls Club of Gardner is held at Gardner High School for fifth- through eighth-graders and about 10 students took part in Hour of Code in the high school library.

Some students used the web programming language JavaScript to build shapes in the game Tetris, and other students learned code through the game Minecraft, which is written in the programming language Java.

“They are able to make something tangible in front of them,” said Kilian.

Fifth-grader Matthew Delisle was working with JavaScript which he described as “way too hard,” but he also found some interest in the

Cracking the Code

News staff photo by Andrew Mansfield Seventh-grader Vinnie Kosciolek participates in the Hour of Code at the Boys & Girls Club at Gardner High

experience.

“I think it’s cool how you make the stuff from coding,” he said.

He sat next to fifth-grader Santos Lavoie, who was using coding to build a house in the game Minecraft.

Another student participating in Hour of Code was seventh-grader Vinnie Kosciolek, who was using code to make different art shapes on his computer.

Teaching computer science is a regular part of the Boys & Girls Club, which has a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM.

For example, at the club children have been learning about computers and coding by using do-it-yourself computer kits from the company Kano.

Kilian has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and said coding “can be hard to jump right into.”

“That’s why we want to give these kids a jump start on some of these things,” she said.

“A lot of these kids have already been exposed to what we’re doing today,” Kilian said.

Hour of Code is a trademark of Code.org which promotes having students learn computer science and aims to broaden participation in the field.

According to the organization, Hour of Code is supported by over 400 partners and 200,000 educators worldwide, reaching out to tens of millions of students in over 180 countries.

Educators learn from Code.org how to instruct code and then can hold their own Hour of Code events.

Hour of Code takes place every year during Computer Science Education Week, which is slated this year for Dec. 5-11.

The week is annually held around the birthday of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, an American computer scientist and U.S. Navy rear admiral who was a pioneer in the field of computer programming.

She was born on Dec. 6, 1906, and died on Jan. 1, 1992.

In November of this year, she was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, the highest civilian honor in the country.

The Boys & Girls Club of Gardner is in its second year and is a program of its parent club, the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

Kilian said there are spots available at the Gardner club.

Parents interested in having their children sign up can visit www.bgcflg.org.